And I love that one of your first episodes is based on India – because I take pride in Indian spirituality. One that I grew up with, and cherish – the charming way we learned about service to mankind, about life and integrity, about the power of positive thinking, meditation and self-reflection, acceptance and trust.
OKAY, Reza Aslam. I like you. I like the idea behind your CNN series, Believer. You are focusing on things that connect us, vs. the things that divide us. Great thought.
You are also right. Spirituality has the potential of connecting us all. You get full points for this initiative. We may follow different religions and faiths, but they are all rooted in one, very familiar and pretty similar message. We all have the same goals, the same ideals. Bravo!
India – where spiritual traditions come together from Hinduism, Islam and Christianity
But, here’s the thing. I saw the promo clip of the Indian episode – which is playing again and again on national TV. I am still trying to process how I feel about it – but I will be honest – There’s something not right about that clip and its lack of context.
Thanks to your program, I now know that Aghoris exist. [Yes, I lived in India for 20+ years and I never knew of them. Crazies everywhere!]. Your short promo clip taught me about their bizarre practices and cannibalism rituals. I am impressed that you are wearing a human-remains head-gear in the clip – and that terrified look on your face is priceless. Your exploration took guts and I admire that. The anthropologist in me is curious. This is a great fringe cult to explore and to document.
But context is everything.
Tell me: What does this bat-sh*t-crazy ‘Aghori’ man have to with spirituality? His adornments are creepy and his tone is frightening. How does this connect us with each other? How does this man connect us to spirituality or our faith?
You may say that this is just a short clip and does not represent the whole story? That you will delve into details and tell us how their purity (or lack of) rituals lead their spiritual journey to God. That we all have different paths but the goal is the same.
Yes, I get it. But when you are broadcasting a promotion of such a program on national TV, context matters. If your clip has been taken out of context, then stop playing it, because it is annoying.
Because mere sensationalism is annoying.
I look forward to seeing the whole episode…and sure hope that you frame Indian spirituality, not in terms of outliers but in terms of the larger, richer and cultural way of life – the very foundation of Indian society.
PS: For those who haven’t see the promo chip, here it is: http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2017/01/20/believer-reza-aslan-india-clip-1.cnn